Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why I Participate in Art Retreats

Participating in an art retreat as a student, teacher, vendor or all of the above is always an adventure. The travel planning, gathering of supplies, anticipation of what is to come is all part of the fun.
There is also our fair share of stress - will my supplies get through security? Will the paints explode on the way....

What if I don't bring the right supplies? I have been to many retreats and can honestly say I have never been left stranded with the wrong supplies. Didn't bring the right supply? Usually it mysteriously arrives, between "trades" folks make as a getting to know you gesture and/or generous classmates. I have developed a zen philosophy about this, and I chant it as I am packing for each event. "Whatever I have or am given is enough." It has NEVER failed me. It enhances my experience by forcing me to "make do" with what is in front of me.

I have met some lifelong friends at art retreats. Attending an event where everyone there has something in common with you is a great ice breaker. Even if you are shy or nervous, many creative people have an outgoing nature and pull you into the conversation to put you at ease. Meeting folks who have traveled a long way to attend, hearing their travel adventures - both good and bad provides inspiration to take a risk and travel somewhere you had not considered.

Most artists work in a fair level of isolation and an art retreat allows you to clear the cobwebs off and get real feedback on your work - not just the negative talk that sometimes runs in your head.
I recently attended Art Is You - Mixed Media Retreat in Santa Rosa. A wonderful event run by the tireless Sallianne McClelland and Ellen Legare. These women really know how to create a community.

I met so many amazing, wonderful people this year. I wanted to share a few new friends who touched my life in special ways.

Scott Stabile was the "morning motivator" who helped us gain some focus, before running off to our classrooms. He is one of the most compassionate, gentle humans I have ever met. I loved just hearing him speak, bringing a fresh, kind perspective to life. He has a wonderful book out titled "just love" - which really says it all.....Beautiful inspiration!

Julia Watada a talented jewlery and doll maker. In conversation we found out we both had a common interest as teddy bear artists in the past. It was so fun to find an unexpected connection!

Elena Lai Etcheverry is the founder of Charity Wings Art and Craft Center, in San Marcos, California, my old stomping ground. Elena is a woman of many talents and passionate about giving the gift of art to all. She definitely inspired me to get involved and give back to others the joy that creating has given me. 

Last, but not least, my students provided such memorable experiences. It is always a wonder to see where other creative people will take your class idea. I was blessed with some amazing artists and learned so much from each one of them. Here is a sample of their work:







I hope you will consider attending an art retreat in the future, You will receive much more than new art skills!

Blessings,
Karen


Friday, March 18, 2016

What's Next

I am one of those folks who needs a plan. Since my book was finished, I have been wandering around creatively. Playing is really important to finding your way and wandering is part of that process.
I have dived into exploring watercolor - supplies I have on hand that are under-used.

Figuring out what I actually own was fun. 

Just laying down colors and seeing what looks good. 

Doing my search for a character shape. 

I will be teaching a wonderful class on how to create a doll and then create a painting with the doll as an inspiration for Art-Is-You, Santa Rosa, April 13-15. There is still time to sign up!!
I love this class because it invites me to use fabric as well as all my other mixed media tools.

By working on these two things at the same time, a lightbulb went off. Why not reverse the process. Paint a painting with a character of unusual shape and turn that shape into a doll. Use watercolor and watercolor pencils to finish the doll out!


By doing this in a non-traditional order, I was challenged to interpret the shape I had painted in a way that could make a great doll shape. It was not as easy as I thought.
I really enjoyed the process and have 3 more paintings on their way to becoming dimentional.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stretching Your Art Self


We have an art museum in our town, the Grants Pass Museum of Art. It is a bonus, living in a small town, to have this kind of inspirational source. This time of year is our chance to give back to the museum and invest in its continued success. I donate a painting every year for their "Black, White and Blues" event. This year I chose an oil painting I did several years back. It is amazing to see how my faces have changed....



I also agreed to "art up" a mirror for the silent auction. I thought I could paint it and that would be it. A week and half later and it is done....best laid plans!
I loved the mirror and chose it without regard to how difficult it would be to work with a curved, cove style surface.
As I looked at the frame I thought it would be fun to challenge myself and do more of an assemblage piece. 

Collage...always pretty safe to start with. 

I had a tin shrine on my work table and thought that would work for the top. I had to figure out how to attach it. My trusty hubby unsoldered the cover and I attached the base with screws. I neede to hide the gap from the curved frame underneath. Out came the moulding paste. 

I decided to put moulding paste on almost everything. I had to include the back of the shrine because it will reflect in the mirror. What a mess!

My first choice for a face in the box of the tin shrine...too sweet! I was developing a darker theme, sort of Snow White/Rose Red...

I decided I liked the more sinister face instead.

I made an apple out of paper clay and inserted a doll's eye, stem and leaf with text on it. I thought the mini grapevine would help to hide the glue and fill in that darn cove!

I made some roses out of polymer clay. I liked how they turned out, but they are fragile. This is what happens when you don't really know what you are doing. I plan to find a book on how to make more stable clay items after this is done. The roses are wrapped with some leaves I had with text printed on them. I painted them with clear gesso to make them stiffer.

I painted the whole thing white and figured out the layout.


I found some vintage roses and collaged them onto the front of the shrine.

I burnt some pages of "Snow-White and Rose Red" and added those to the inside.

I used grapevines for the rose stems and nailed those onto the frame. I soaked them in water to prevent them from splitting when nailed and wrapped them in wire to form the curves. 
Once that was done I was lost in the painting process. Many layers of colors and dry brushing with white until I liked it. Of course I was in the zone and did not get progress pics....someday I will figure out how to capture that part. Time lapse maybe?

I love how all that moulding paste looks like old wood. Adding a little drippy red to the red rose side.

"White" rose...I attached the roses to the frame with liquid nails and wire wrapped around the grapevines.

Shrine closed.

Shrine Open...I used color pencil to add more definition to the face.

Serious clamping job to glue top of shrine onto the box...


Finished frame with shrine closed.

The finished frame whith the shrine doors open.
 This project really did stretch my creative muscles. I  learned alot and realized the joy that can be had problem solving. This project proves my theory of art making: Always say yes and figure it out as you go. 

If you are in the Southern Oregon area, I will see you at the Black, White and Blues Art Auction and Gala Event.
February 13, 2016
This piece could be yours!




Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Atom Journal Page #21

While on vacation I was able to complete a journal page. I tried to take photos as I went. As usual, there comes a point where I am lost in the process and am missing a few steps, but I think you can still get an idea of the progress. I use old books for my journals and adopt part or all of the original title for each journal. I number the pages before I start to work. This makes it easier to organize the digital files of my finished pages.

I began on a page in the journal that was prepped with random collage and a coat of Golden Absorbent Ground. The ground allows me to use watercolor on the collage surface.
 I added a face from my random "character file" - a folder of faces I have roughly drawn on various papers with different media.
This one was an ink and watercolor pencil sketch on gessoed red rosin paper.

I used the collage as a guide for the body placement and shape.
A dog was added to give my character something to do!

Vintage magazine legs were added.
Don't you just love the shape...


I outlined the entire character and dog with watercolor pencil and started to blend it with matte medium.



This is the part where I get involved and forget to take photos.
I added color with pencils and pan watercolor. I always work on top of the added collage to make the character seamless.  I used heavy body Titanium White acrylic for the highlights.
I used a Sharpie white water based paint pen to add some accents and flowers.


I used a muted yellow watercolor for the background and added a bit more blue and red to the flowers to make them stand out.
The wings on the dog were made with a rubber stamp loaded with fairly dry watercolor. 
A few accents added to the doggie wings with pencil. More white pen around the flowers.
 Page 21 of the Atom Journal is done.

A little San Diego Zoo cuteness! A new baby giraffe.
This photo shows how much growing he has to do...

The Meerkats and I wish you a Happy New Year!!







Saturday, December 5, 2015

Artmaking: A Creative Vocation


 I recently took part in a local high school mentor program where working artists meet with students interested in persuing Art as a career. I looked up the meaning of "career" because it did not feel right to me. I really think that "vocation" is a better description of the life of an artist. Vocation is defined as: a strong feeling of being destined or called to undertake a specifice type of work. Artmaking is not a 9-5 job, it is a lifestyle. I am compelled to create something...anything, otherwise I get cranky! So my "vocation" is to do whatever it takes to be able to continue to create.

In light of my personal definition of life as an artist, I decided not talk about different careers in Art - leave that to school counselors. Instead, I focused on general things that have helped me as a working artist. It was a fun experience and I decided to jot down some of the things I shared after the meeting. After looking at the list, I thought it would be fun to share it on the blog. Here it goes:
  1. Practice saying "I am an Artist."  If you don't believe, no one else will.
  2. Design your own educational path. It does not have to be all formal classroom education. Experience is a great teacher.
  3. Always say "YES"  and figure it out later. All my best experiences and connections have occured when I said "yes" to something out of my comfort zone.
  4. Practice, practice, practice - it takes WORK to be really good at what you do.
  5. Keep a sketchbook to document your process. Record what inspires you, try out tools, ideas, what works and what does not. Consider them a resource and a record of your personal journey.
  6. Work toward developing your own style by your choices in subjects, colors,  materials and their application. Use an inspiration board  to help you figure out what your are really interested in and re-evaluate periodically, as your tastes and interests will evolve. 
  7. Get feedback and support. Bring your sketchbook with you everywhere. You never know when you will have a chance to get feedback on what you are doing. Choose a safe audience  - family and friends to gather support.
  8. Post your pictures on social media when you are ready. Pinterest and Instagram are a great place to start.
  9. Allow yourself to be curious and keep asking WHAT IF?
  10. Participate in a collaborative projects, enter competitions, submit artwork to the publications that interest you.  Rejection is a necessary evil of a creative career, so create some positive self talk to get through the tough spots.
  11. Find your "People." Not everyone will like what you do, so keep pushing your art out until you find the folks who "get" your work.
  12. My favorite reading list for a creative life are:
·       Art and Fear - Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland
·       Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
·       Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert